Tuesday, August 27, 2019

China is not budging so Trump is moving close to a trade war

The Chinese do not seem rational actors. They should be doing their best to cooperate with their biggest customer. I fear that "face" may have come into play.  Loss of "face" (humiliation) is very grievous in China

President Donald Trump stepped up the pressure on China last week by leveling sanctions against Beijing for its role in shipping tons of fentanyl to the U.S. that has killed more Americans than the Lusitania and Sept. 11, 2001 combined, plus a new round of tariffs to keep the pressure on Beijing to come to the table on trade.

To top it all off, Trump threatened broader economic sanctions on China and urged U.S. companies to leave, citing authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to block transactions upon declaration of an emergency.

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 23, to the shock of the Washington, D.C. establishment. Trump later clarified he was talking about imposing sanctions on China, “For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.”

It marks a steep escalation in the dispute with China, and with these powers, the President can prohibit “any transactions in foreign exchange,” “transfers of credit or payments,” “the importing or exporting of currency or securities,” and “any acquisition, holding, withholding, use, transfer, withdrawal, transportation, importation or exportation of, or dealing in, or exercising any right, power, or privilege with respect to, or transactions involving, any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

With that, Trump could cut off all commerce with China with the stroke of a pen or bar it from treasuries markets. And yes, he can do that. Congress has the power under Article I to regulate foreign commerce and to enact laws deemed necessary and proper to bring them into execution, which is precisely what Trump is doing here. Similar sanctions are used against countries like Iran and North Korea.

On China’s opium war with the U.S., almost 29,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl overdoses in 2017 alone. That is up from 3,000 deaths in 2013, and a good chunk of that is coming from China. Now, President Trump is taking decisive action with the latest round of sanctions.

According to a White House press release, “the Department of the Treasury announced it is identifying two Chinese nationals and a China-based Drug Trafficking Organization as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) and designated one associate and a China-based entity for being owned or controlled by one of the Chinese nationals.”

On Twitter on Aug. 23, Trump urged UPS, Fedex and the U.S. Postal Service to do its part in enforcing the sanctions: “I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE… all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!)... President Xi said this would stop - it didn’t.”

China responded to the sanctions tit for tat by leveling another $75 billion of tariffs on U.S. goods that otherwise appeared unprompted after President Trump had postponed the latest 10 percent round of tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of goods until December. The U.S. already has 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of goods.

With China’s new tariffs, Trump immediately raised the American tariffs to 30 percent on the $250 billion of Chinese goods starting on Oct. 1, and up to 15 percent on the $300 billion of goods, which are no longer delayed and will go into effect on Sept. 1.

Trump wrote on Twitter announcing the move, “For many years China (and many other countries) has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade, Intellectual Property Theft, and much more. Our Country has been losing HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year to China, with no end in sight… Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of Fair and Balanced Trade that it has become a great burden to the American Taxpayer. As President, I can no longer allow this to happen!”

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning praised the move in a statement, saying, “Chinese and U.S. negotiators are scheduled to meet next week and President Trump will be meeting with other leaders at the G7 about China. Hopefully they will find a basic common ground that accomplishes three things: ending China's opium war against the U.S. using fentanyl, protecting intellectual property and ending competitive currency devaluations by China. In the past, Chinese and U.S. negotiators have agreed on all three of these points. Let's hope Beijing will finally sign off so the world can begin to embrace fair and reciprocal free trade and the scourge of fentanyl can be shelved forever, saving tens of thousands American lives every year.”

It’s about time.

The difference between Trump and his predecessors is that he actually fighting, which is what he promised to do in 2016. Getting tough with China has meant addressing the North Korean nuclear threat, arming Taiwan and Trump has also spoken out in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong who are marching for their freedom. In the meantime, Trump is seeking out alternatives to China, for example, with a new trade deal with Japan just announced at the G7 in France on Aug. 25.

Dialogue, of course, is preferred. Chinese officials keep saying that too but they also don’t appear to keep any of their promises when they are made. This is all coming to a head, and right now, Beijing appears more interested in inflicting damage on the U.S. economy than talking ahead of the 2020 election in the hopes the American people elect a more acquiescent candidate. We’ll see, but history teaches it’s usually not a good idea to bet against America.

The strategy appears to be to back Trump into a corner, who has responded by coming out with guns blazing. Whatever he intended to accomplish vis a vis trade, China and globalization, this is Trump’s moment and he intends to see it through.

And it could have a lasting impact. With these new sanctions, the likelihood is that Trump has already permanently shifted America’s footing to take a harder line on China, a policy his successor whether in 2021 or 2024 will be compelled to continue. For better or for worse, that is Trump’s legacy.



Bernie and the Democrats: How Anger Makes You Stupid

In case you missed it, or are exclusively a reader of the New York Times, late last week Bernie Sanders tweeted this nugget: "Fossil fuel executives should be criminally prosecuted for the destruction they have knowingly caused."

No, that wasn't The Onion or The Babylon Bee. It was the real deal. The always-furious Vermont senator wants to incarcerate the very people who are responsible for keeping the lights on and the air conditioners running in the operating rooms of almost every hospital, not only in America but across the globe. And that's just the beginning of the myriad necessities of human life provided for at this point in human history by these supposed criminals in the eyes of the self-described democratic socialist of the multiple houses and private jets.

Crazy, no? Crazy, yes. Crazier than the proverbial hoot owl. And mighty angry.

Was Bernie always this way? More or less. When I saw him speak in Des Moines during his first go-round as a presidential candidate, I thought I had been teleported back to 1912 and was listening to Eugene V. Debs, who ran for U.S. president as a socialist five times, vilifying capitalism at every turn. Only Debs had the excuse of spewing his destructive nonsense before Stalin and Mao murdered or starved to death tens of millions of their own people

Not that any of this disturbed Bernie, who, as is well known, celebrated his marriage in the Soviet Union, a land he clearly preferred to the USA. The problem with all this is that Sanders remains popular with student and millennial audiences that are, given the nature of our educational system, primed to be loyal citizens of a future Animal Farm, in fact already are.

Sanders is the grandfather of the social justice warriors and the violent Antifa freaks in their KKK look-alike masks. In a sense, he is a kind of child molester, more dangerous in his own way than even Jeffrey Epstein. As last year's news, however, he is losing ground these days to Elizabeth Warren, who claims to be sort of a capitalist but not really (just as she claimed to be sort of an Indian but not really). So Bernie's even more angry, hectoring us more than usual. But Liz is little better, try as she might to play-act the beer-drinking one of the boys and girls who dances the hully-gully or whatever it was she was doing. It didn't look like fun.

They're not alone. The entire Democratic field appears to be an angry man/woman's club. No happy warriors there. When Joe Biden makes one of his many gaffes, he's almost always inveighing against Trump when he does it, as in the classic "We choose truth over facts." It can be said that anger makes you senile — or increases senility.

Trump is also guilty of outbursts of anger leading to misstatements, but the president is finally a happy warrior. He has humor, as opposed to the Democrats, a glum lot indeed. Donald looks as if he is enjoying himself, at least most of the time.

He also seems to be constantly trying to do things to improve the situation. The Democrats just make pronouncements. In competition with each other, they back programs that no one could possibly believe would ever happen. Anger at Trump and the world seem to be the motivation for most of these ideas. Practical solutions to actual problems go aborning. In fact, they are completely beside the point. Only posturing prevails. But that's what happens when anger is your best, and seemingly only, friend.



What the grievance brigade misunderstands about America

The ongoing crusade against America’s civic rituals and founding values picked up pace this summer.

The city council of St. Louis Park, Minn., stopped reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before its meetings, lest immigrants feel “uncomfortable.” Nike junked a commemorative Fourth of July shoe with an embroidered Revolutionary War flag on its heel because the flag could “offend and detract” from the national holiday. The Charlottesville, Va., city council scrapped the city holiday celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. The San Francisco School Board voted to cover up a mural of George Washington. Colorado State University recommended against using “America” or “American” to refer to the United States and its citizens since those words “erase” other cultures in the Western hemisphere.

Previously, monuments to American history have been shrouded, vandalized and removed; patriotic ceremonies have been cancelled or renamed. A former San Francisco school board president, now a city supervisor, encouraged schools honoring Washington, James Monroe, Jefferson, and Francis Scott Key to rechristen themselves, because those historical figures “are not relevant or meaningful or inspire pride.” A statue of Abraham Lincoln at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been targeted repeatedly for removal because, as one protester from an indigenous student group explained: “Let’s be real. He owned slaves . . .and ordered the execution of Native men.”

These erasures are done in the name of fighting patriarchy, racism, genocide and colonialism. At the next outbreak of iconoclastic zeal, two questions should be posed to the purifiers:

Compared to what?

There is hardly a single world culture that has not aspired to domination of the “Other,” often achieving a level of subjugation surpassing anything accomplished by the United States. Slavery has been almost universal throughout much of human history, practiced by the Ottoman Empire, the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese dynasties, Native Americans, the Aztecs, and the Mayans, among other tribes and nations.

Brutal indentured servitude can still be found in the Middle East and Africa. Recent civil wars in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo used rape as an instrument of war; young girls were abducted for sex slavery. Islamists in Sudan have engaged in torture, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. Hutus in Rwanda massacred hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in 1994; the blood bath continued within refugee camps. The Khmer Rouge, Idi Amin, and Robert Mugabe crushed human rights. Japan colonized Korea. According to historian William Osborn, Native Americans committed wartime atrocities – deliberate murder and mutilation – against over 9,000 civilians and prisoners during three centuries of conflict with European settlers; the European settlers committed two thousand fewer such atrocities. Females continue to be treated as chattel in large swathes of the Middle East and Africa. Blackface remains a popular staple of entertainment throughout the Arab world.

Whose values are you vindicating?

The campaign against American history is based on values derived from the very Western tradition that the academic and political Left currently reviles. The movement to abolish slavery arose in the West; it employed principles of equality and individual rights unique to European political theory. That the United States was willing for so many decades to tolerate slavery’s grotesque violation of the country’s founding ideals is a stain on our history. But those ideals did belatedly win out, and they continue to inspire movements for freedom the world over.

The academic and progressive Left preposterously regard the Enlightenment as the source of the world’s racism. If the Left succeeded in routing Enlightenment ideas, it would have nothing with which to fight the hatred and contempt for the “Other” that has characterized tribal relations from the start of human history.

Martin Luther King, Jr., understood how precious America’s Enlightenment ideals were, even if the country betrayed them for so long. “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” the Reverend King said from the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. “This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” No member of the intersectional grievance brigades would grant such legitimacy and honor to our founding documents today; the authors of those documents are being unceremoniously thrown on the dust heap.

The anti-American crusaders’ woeful ignorance of the past goes beyond thinking that Abraham Lincoln owned slaves; that ignorance extends to the present world as well. They have a brittle intolerance of human frailty and of the messiness and complexity of social change. America’s founders made compromises with their own ideals that today we may regard as egregious and unacceptable. But humans are never perfect; history is a record of moral failures as well as triumphs. We learn as much from the former as from the latter; erasing history is simply a power play and an act of sullen revenge.

The saddest part of the current rage against the American past is that after the monuments have been removed, the paintings effaced and the nationalistic words banished, nothing will have changed in the status of the self-proclaimed intersectional victims. The academic achievement gap will be intact. The greatest barriers to racial equality today are not statues and patriotic holidays; they are family breakdown and a street culture that regards academic effort and achievement as “acting white.” The time spent spray-painting statuary could be far better spent in the library acquiring knowledge and mastering skills.



Immigrants should not be on welfare

President Trump is getting hit by the left for his latest immigration reform proposal. Under the new plan, immigrants who come to the United States and receive welfare benefits could be denied green cards or visas. His opponents wasted no time labeling this policy racist, of course, contrary to the words of Emma Lazarus on the steps of the Statue of Liberty to “give us your poor, huddled masses,” and a fundamental change from the traditional immigration policies that we have in the United States.

Actually, no. All of those objections are wrong. Indeed, Trump is right. For 200 years, immigrants have been coming to the United States ‎without receiving welfare. In fact, they could be denied entry if immigration officials believed they would become a “public charge.” They had to be economically self-sufficient. Wave after wave of those born abroad have done magnificently well by becoming self-sufficient when they came here, even if they had nothing. The story has been told millions of times over, from Intel chairman Andrew Grove to NBA superstar Joel Embiid.

Most every economic analysis finds that legal immigrants are net contributors to the economy. Not all immigrants are beneficial and, sure, there are bad apples in the bunch. But the benefits of immigration are surprisingly large, mostly because most immigrants are risk takers who come to the United States between the ages of 16 and 40, so they tend to be at the start of their working years or at the peak of their earning years.

The net benefits to American citizens in terms of growing the economy and paying taxes is in the trillions of dollars over the next 40 years, when you include Social Security payments. Skilled immigrants provide the highest benefits. Trump is correct in proposing that we should change the selection process to a merit policy along the lines of what has been adopted in Canada and Australia. This would ensure that we get the best, brightest, and hardest working, regardless of race, origin, or ethnicity.

Most importantly, there should be no welfare benefits for immigrants until they become citizens. That is the deal. To the immigrants, we say, “We will give you the greatest asset in the world, a United States passport allowing you to share in our freedoms and our wonderland of opportunity, but you cannot receive taxpayer welfare benefits. You and your sponsors are responsible for your well being. If an immigrant falls on tough times, then family members, employers, or other sponsors should be held responsible to help them get their feet back on the ground, not the government.”

With entitlement spending exploding and trillions of dollars of future deficits in these programs, we cannot afford to allow foreigners to come to America to collect our generous benefits. ‎We have strong evidence that welfare has the same debilitating dependency effects on ‎immigrants as it does on the native born. It saps them of their economic drive, which is the very attribute that makes immigrants such valuable assets in the first place. For example, Texas has historically offered fewer welfare benefits than California, and it is no surprise that immigrants in California are more likely to be collecting government aid than those in Texas.

Most immigrants do not abuse our welfare system, and government handouts are not the magnet. But too often immigrants come here and the social service agencies sign them up for Medicaid, food stamps, and other assistance. Democrats even argued during the Obama years that putting people on food stamps was a stimulus to local communities.

My suspicion is that if immigrants knew that the deal for the privilege of being admitted to this country and becoming an American is no welfare, there would be no shortage of takers. If freedom and opportunity are not enough of a magnet, then those who would refuse to come under these new conditions probably are not the ones we need anyway.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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